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Tue 09 apr

Marko reveals F1 'name to look out for' as Red Bull target
F1 News

Marko reveals F1 'name to look out for' as Red Bull target

  • April 9, 2024 18:02

One of F1's most successful teams, Williams, has gone through some difficult times in the modern era.

From close-fought battles with Ferrari and McLaren through the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, Williams has collected nine constructors' championships, seven drivers' titles, 114 race victories, and 313 podiums since the team's first entry in 1977.

From Piquet to Mansell, Prost to Senna, and Hill to Villeneuve, during a time when the Williams was the car to drive, some of the best drivers in F1's history have passed through the outfit created by Sir Frank Williams and his family. The last true independent team? Hopefully, new ownership can propel Williams back to the top.

Jones and Rosberg - 1977-1984

Williams began life as a team in 1977 with a March chassis and a single entry at the hands of Belgian Patrick Neve. A best finish of seventh wasn't enough to claim points but provided enthusiasm for the future.

The first Williams-built chassis arrived in 1978, with Australian Alan Jones claiming the first podium for the team at Watkins Glen. Joined the following season by Clay Regazzoni, wins soon came.

The Swiss driver took his maiden victory at Silverstone before Jones won four of the last six races of the season as Williams finished second in the constructors' championship.

1980 would take both Jones and the team one step further. Five victories for Jones took him to the drivers' title, while the help of Carlos Reutemann propelled the team to the first of its teams' triumphs.

The same pairing delivered another constrcutors' crown in 1981 before fortunes turned in 1982. Derek Daly would take over the second seat after four races and finish with the best result of fifth, while Keke Rosberg would win just once. While the team finished fourth in the teams' standings, Rosberg remarkably capitalised on his consistency to become the world champion.

1983 and 1984 would prove difficult as retirements marked the beginning of the Williams-Honda marriage, with Rosberg winning just twice more for the team across the two seasons. The times would change soon enough...

Mansell, Piquet, Prost, Hill, Senna and Villeneuve - 1985-1997

Nigel Mansell joined Rosberg in 1985 as fortunes switched back to the beginning of the decade. Third in the championship and four wins were shared equally by the drivers as form returned to a Williams team.

When former world champion Nelson Piquet joined Mansell in 1986, it was one of the best intra-team rivalries in F1 history. Across two seasons, the duo would share 18 victories, while Piquet would win the title in 1987, along with the team winning the constructors' in both years. Mansell was only denied by his infamous tyre blowout in Adelaide the year before.

Between 1988 and 1991 Mansell and Piquet would both leave the team, with Riccardo Patrese and Thierry Boutsen picking up the scraps left by McLaren and Ferrari in between.

When the British driver rejoined in 1991, Williams returned to the runner-up position as consistent frontrunning returned.

The team became the dominant force over the next three years, with Mansell finally avenging his 1986 heartbreak with nine victories on his way to becoming 1992 champion. The team won three constructors' titles in a row, with Alain Prost taking his final championship triumph with the team a year later.

1994 was the toughest in the team's history. The championship triumph paled in comparison to the loss of Ayrton Senna in his third race with the team in San Marino. Damon Hill, son of the legendary Graham, took on Senna's mantle as team leader and battled Benetton's Michael Schumacher to the very end in Australia.

A collision between the two controversially handed Schumacher the title, but Hill would gain revenge in 1996. Williams dominated, with Jacques Villeneuve challenging Hill after making the move from CART in the USA.

12 race wins between them would hand Williams an easy title, but Hill would ensure he would become part of the only father-son world champion pairing at the time.

Villeneuve would get his shot at glory in 1997, although controversy between Schumacher and a Williams driver would again take place in the season finale. This time, it was the Ferrari that came off worse, and Villeneuve took his one and only title.

Schumacher and Montoya - 1998-Present

That would be the last time Williams would win either title, although it has not been for a lack of trying. After a few shallow seasons, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, as well as BMW backing, would push Williams back up the order, finishing second in 2002 and 2003 with victories and podiums aplenty.

But a steady decline throughout the 21st century has seen the once-great team struggle severely. The last victory for the team came at the hands of Pastor Maldonado in 2012, followed by a small resurgence with the help of Mercedes engines at the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014 as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas challenged Mercedes.

After struggling in recent times, scoring only one point since the start of 2019, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi secured points on multiple occasions in 2021 to bring hope that fortunes can continue to change, while a change of ownership in 2020 has provided much-needed funds.

In 2022, Alexander Albon returned to the F1 grid, replacing Russell who partnered with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

The team finished the season last with only 8 points, with Nicholas Latifi placing 20th and Albon finishing 19th in the driver standings.

At the end of the season, Williams announced that Latifi would be departing the team and being replaced by Formula 2 race winner Logan Sargeant.

Moving into the 2023 season, the team finished in 7th place in the constructor standings with a total of 28 points. Albon contributed 27 points, securing 13th place in the driver rankings, while rookie Sargeant managed to score his first point in the United States Grand Prix in Austin, finishing 21st.

After the 2023 season finale in Abu Dhabi, Williams confirmed that Sergeant will team up with Alexander Albon in 2024, and their contracts will run until the end of the season.